Two examples of blogs that have made a strong impact in our region are Friends For Fullerton's Future and The Avocado Express. The Fullerton site recently mounted a much needed ballot initiative to recall three City Councilmembers, including a sitting Mayor, and in last month's elections prevailed by substantial margins. The Avocado Express is currently engaged in challenging a steep water rate increase in La Habra Heights, and apparently with considerable success. Both of these blogs are listed on our "Sites Of Interest" roll located over on the lower righthand side of this page.
Obviously there are those in Fullerton and La Habra Heights that would wish that their local representatives of Blog Nation would somehow disappear. As there are in this community, a few of whom worked quite hard to make something similar happen to this site, especially during our recent City Council elections.
That these kinds of blogs have become widely read and discussed in their communities is also a problem for certain established interests. The public acceptance of blogs of this sort becoming clear proof that formerly prevalent versions of popular reality are no longer as widely accepted as they were, thereby threatening the successful marketing of once privileged agendas and priorities. Effort that are oftentimes antithetical to the needs of the taxpayers whose resources these government enabled special interests greedily consume to achieve their goals.
Last month we posted an article entitled "New York State Legislators Attempt To Ban Anonymous Online Commenting" (click here). The target of their clearly unconstitutional piece of repressive legislation being blogs. Like any hidebound establishment threatened with being made to look absurd by a rising tide of unfettered and often critical public opinion, these legislators were clearly interested in creating a law that would silence people who had become a challenge to their continuing in power. And after all, how can you intimidate those who are safely hidden away from outraged power through the protection of their identities?
But now there is something else we should discuss. A friend forwarded me an article from a nationally read news site called Patterico's Pontifications (click here). The post is written by Patterico himself, and it deals with something called "SWAT-ting." Here is what he has to say about this disturbing development:
Some positive developments occurred yesterday for several of us who have suffered retaliation in our personal lives for our political views.
Yesterday Saxby Chambliss, U.S. Senator for Georgia, wrote Eric Holder to request a federal investigation of politically motivated SWATtings:
Dear Attorney General Holder:
I am writing with concern regarding recent reports that several members of the community of online political commentators have been targeted with harassing and frightening actions. Any potentially criminal action that incites fear, seeks to silence a dissenting opinion, and collaterally wastes the resources of law enforcement should be given close scrutiny at all levels.
According to these individuals' reports, these dangerous hoaxes, also known as SWAT-ting," have a perpetrator contacting a local police department to report some type of violent incident at the home of the target. It is believed that these callers utilize some of the less traditional telecommunications methods, including voice over IP (VOIP) to make the call appear as though it is coming from the target residence and to better hide the true identity of the caller.
In response, a dispatcher than sends a large number of understandably anxious police units, in a heightened state of readiness, to the home of the still unsuspecting target. The first that the target or their unsuspecting family learns of this false report to law enforcement is when they are shocked to see an abnormal police presence descending on their residence.
The use of SWAT-ting as a harassment tool is apparently not new, but its use as a tool for targeting political speech appears to be a more recent development. During the last year, some of the more widely reported cases of SWAT-ting have taken place against blog operators across the country, including Georgia. The emerging pattern is both disturbing and dangerous.
While these incidences are currently small in number, and have fortunately not led to any accidental physical harm, they are extremely concerning. The perpetrators appear to be targeting individuals who are vigorously exercising their First Amendment rights to political speech. As you know, these reported efforts to intimidate those who choose to enter the political forum and express their opinions are in conflict with the founding principles of our nation.
Regardless of any potential political differences that may exist, threats and intimidation have no place in our national political discourse. Those who choose to enter into that political discourse should not have to worry about personal threats to their or their family's safety.
While I am certain that local law enforcement is reviewing each of these instances, I am asking you to please look into each of these cases as well to determine if any federal laws may have been violated. Future targets of SWAT-ting, whether engaged in political speech or not, may not be so fortunate as to escape physical harm.
This story was picked up by ABC News, and you can link to the report on their site by clicking here.